Transforming Treatment for Acute Malnutrition health

Transforming the way acute malnutrition is treated to save lives and cost

IRC is proposing a suite of five approaches to simplify treatment for acute malnutrition and to make it more accessible. Alongside an ambitious advocacy campaign, they have the potential to transform the way children with acute malnutrition are treated.
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Transforming Treatment for Acute Malnutrition is at the Scale stage

health

Micronutrient Cubes

A third of the 2 billion people who are micronutrient deficient are children. Many have little access to diverse foods or supplements. By working through private sector supply chains, this...

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empowerment

Urban Housing

Jordan

Rapid urbanization in many parts of the world has led to a great deal of challenges ensuring the availability of adequate housing. In the Middle East, this is coupled by...

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empowerment

Voluntary and Spontaneous Returns

Jordan

As people displaced by the Syria crisis begin returning to their homes, new approaches will be needed to deal with the unprecedented scale of returns.

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other

Financing Refugee Crisis Response

Together with the Centre for Global Disaster Protection, Airbel is working to assess the potential to use risk-based financing approaches to respond to refugee influxes.

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empowerment

Information Flows

Jordan

Displaced people live in challenging circumstances where accurate information can become difficult to obtain. Strengthening information flows can aid in decision-making and make their circumstances easier to manage.

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health

Mental Health

Jordan

Supporting the mental health needs of displaced people will be crucial to helping them lay the groundwork for future success.

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empowerment

Placement Algorithm

United States

Airbel is piloting and scaling an innovative machine learning algorithm developed by the Stanford University Immigration Policy Lab that matches refugees in areas where they are likely to thrive when...

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other

Resettlement Revolving Fund

In this new model for refugee resettlement finance, a self-sustaining fund provides countries with finance for refugee resettlement, and is replenished as refugees fuel economic growth.

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economic-wellbeing

Trade Accelerator

Focused support for Jordanian businesses to foster rapid growth and help them tap into the European market and hire refugees to do so.

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This project became inactive following the Generate Solutions phase

health

Virtual Baby

This portable game would let children earn points for raising a happy baby, teaching them about sexual health and nutrition.

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This project became inactive following the Generate Solutions phase

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empowerment

Ask Laila

A hotline, SMS, and web-based service to help resettled refugees get quick answers from a trusted local source - in their own language.

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This project became inactive following the Prototype phase

empowerment

Games for Diversity and Inclusion

Airbel worked closely with colleagues in the Asia Region to prototype approaches to increasing diversity and inclusivity in our workplaces through mechanisms with wide appeal, that can be easily integrated...

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This project graduated following the Prototype phase

health

Medicine Bank

Jordan

People with low income in Jordan often struggle to access the medicine they need. This solution is aimed at making supply chains more efficient to reduce the cost of pharmaceuticals....

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education

Pop Up Learning

Bangladesh

Pop-Up Learning is a computer-assisted learning program, aimed to mobilize quickly and efficiently on the onset of crisis.

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health

Sprout

Niger

Over 16 million children under the age of 3 are afflicted by severe acute malnutrition. To pinpoint the most impactful prevention methods, Sprout is experimenting with 3 distinct approaches.

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This project graduated following the Prototype phase

education

Spark

Tanzania

Spark creates alternative learning spaces outside of refugee camp schools to practice play-based learning and social-emotional skills with primary school children.

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This project became inactive following the Prototype phase

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empowerment

IRC Connect

United States

In partnership with Twilio.org, Airbel is developing an SMS-based system to streamline communication between caseworkers and newly-settled refugees as they adapt to their new lives in the United States.

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education

Coach Erevu

Tanzania

Coach Erevu is a virtual teacher coaching program designed to empower teachers to learn and practice social-emotional learning activities that they can use in their classrooms.

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health

Low-Literacy Malnutrition Tools

South Sudan

In hard-to-reach areas local community health workers are key to treating malnourished children. Commonly used tools for diagnosing and treating malnutrition have been adapted to meet the needs of workers...

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This project graduated following the Pilot phase

other

SCAN

The Systematic Cost Analysis (SCAN) tool simplifies the process of conducting cost analyses, helping humanitarian and development actors make use of limited resources in a transparent and effective way.

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education

Tunakujenga

Tanzania

Tunakujenga is a family learning program designed to empower caregivers to engage in nurturing and playful parenting to support their children’s social and emotional development.

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safety

Becoming One

Uganda

Becoming One is a counseling program designed to bring couples closer and prevent intimate partner violence. The program is delivered in partnership with local faith leaders, who guide couples through...

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education

EmpaTeach

Tanzania

EmpaTeach is a project that aims to reduce corporal punishment in low resource settings by helping teachers learn positive discipline methods, change destructive thought patterns, and plan ahead for positive...

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economic-wellbeing

Match

Jordan

Working to counter the high rates of unemployment that follow mass displacement, the Match project in Jordan is testing a set of new innovations for placing vulnerable populations and refugees...

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safety

Modern Man

Liberia

Modern Man is a mobile messaging campaign that engages men with an aspirational and positive masculine identity to prevent intimate partner violence. It sends SMS messages to men who have...

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education

Ahlan Simsim

In this historic effort, IRC and Sesame Workshop have partnered to help children whose lives have been uprooted by the war in Syria to build brighter futures.

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health

Transforming Treatment for Acute Malnutrition

IRC is proposing a suite of five approaches to simplify treatment for acute malnutrition and to make it more accessible. Alongside an ambitious advocacy campaign, they have the potential to...

Find out more
No projects currently, try another filter

Acute malnutrition is a continuum condition meaning a child’s condition improves or deteriorates continuously along a single spectrum. Today, children suffering from acute malnutrition are divided into two different categories based on the severity of their illness: severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and moderate acute malnutrition (MAM).  This impacts what kind of treatment they access, where treatment is available to them, and far too often, whether they can access treatment at all. 

Treatment for SAM and MAM is rarely available at the same place and time and in many locations, treatment for MAM is not available at all, meaning children must wait until their health deteriorates before accessing the care that they need. Worse still, the treatment for both conditions is currently available only in formal health facilities putting the burden on families to traverse long, often dangerous distances, to reach the life-saving care their children desperately need.  

This system is inefficient and makes it difficult for children to access the care they need.  In fact, less than 20% of acutely malnourished children receive the treatment they need to fully recover. 

The five interventions

  1. Combined, simplified treatment of SAM and MAM: Under a combined approach, children with SAM and MAM are treated together in the same physical location, using a tailored dose of one product. This is simpler for health providers to implement and relies on fewer treatment products to deliver the same health gains. 
  2. Delivering Care Through Community Health Workers (CHWs): TheIRC has piloted and tested the feasibility of delivering treatment through community health workers, which enables families to access care directly in the communities they live from providers they know. The IRC designed and developed simplified tools to support even low-literate CHWs to accurately diagnose and treat acute malnutrition.
  3. Parents Monitoring and Diagnosing Malnutrition at Home: Several clinical trials and operational studies have shown caretakers can be trained to accurately diagnose malnutrition in their own children. Empowering caretakers to manage the screening process allows children to be identified and referred to care more quickly.
  4. Locally-sourced and Produced Ready-to-use Foods: Ready-to-use food (RUF) makes it possible for children to be treated in their own homes. These products are typically produced in/shipped from Europe and the United States. Locally-sourced and produced RUF would allow more children to be treated for less cost.
  5. Integrating Treatment and Prevention: The IRC is testing a series of strategies to prevent malnutrition in vulnerable communities. The next step is integration – linking families of malnourished children with resources to prevent malnutrition from reoccurring.

Where we are now

The IRC is generating evidence around these innovative approaches. Our research and pilot studies already suggest that these approaches are feasible and can have a transformative impact on the lives of children around the world. 

The IRC is also leading and ambitious advocacy campaign to ensure these approaches will be endorsed, adopted into policies and guidelines, and adequately financed. This requires elevating acute malnutrition as a priority for global donors, targeting stakeholders from peer organizations, and working directly with the U.N. to build the consensus and political will needed to see these approaches put into action.

July 2019 | UN issues joint statement on wasting

UN leaders publically committed to developing a Global Action Plan on Wasting and to updating WHO treatment guidelines. This commitment represents critical progress toward policy reform. The IRC played a key role in generating the political will needed to make this statement.

Resource

October 2018 | Multi-country pilot begins

In Mali and Chad, UNICEF, WFP and ECHO endorse the combined protocol for further exploration and unite to fund and organize a large-scale, multi-country pilot of the combined protocol. These pilots will generate additional evidence from which the IRC will drive meaningful policy change and produce programmatic guidance. 

August 2018 | Randomized control trial in Kenya and South Sudan concludes

Working closely with partners Action Against Hunger and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the IRC implemented a randomized controlled research study (RCT) in Kenya and South Sudan to test a combined protocol to treat children with SAM and MAM. Preliminary results from the trial suggest that the combined protocol is not only successful at recovering children with both SAM and MAM to full recovery, but can do so at a lower cost.

Resource

March 2018 | Conclusion of test of severe acute malnutrition protocol in Somalia

The IRC conducted a prospective cohort study to test an adapted protocol for treating SAM in Somalia using RUTF dosage based on the treatment protocol implemented in the ComPAS research trial in Kenya and South Sudan. To further understand requirements for adaptation and adoption of the combined protocol in different contexts, the IRC also conducted a policy analysis on the use of the protocol in five different food-crisis affected contexts. 

Resource

September 2017 | Study on delivering care through community health workers concludes

The IRC has piloted and tested delivering treatment through community health workers which enables families to access care directly in the communities they live, from providers they know. To make this feasible, the IRC designed and developed simplified tools to support even low-literate CHWs to accurately diagnose and treat acute malnutrition.

Resource

January 2016 | Design of combined, simplified protocol concludes

Working with an expert task force of scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, and University of Tampere/University of Copenhagen, the IRC conducts secondary data analysis of 10,000 acutely malnourished children to propose a new optimized dosage of RUTF to treat SAM and MAM. 

Resource

October 2014 | Design of combined simplified protocol begins

The Airbel Impact Lab at IRC is a team of researchers, strategists and innovators committed to the accelerated design, rigorous evaluation and cost-effective scaling of the most impactful solutions supporting people affected by crisis.